Grand Sport Sees Tremendous Growth One Year After Adopting GT4 Specs
Thursday, October 5, 2017

While Friday’s Fox Factory 120 at Road Atlanta marks the end of the 2017 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season, it signifies only the beginning of good things to come for the series’ Grand Sport (GS) class.

It’s been a little over one year since IMSA announced its intention to adopt GT4 technical specifications in GS and with the first year of that plan coming to a close this weekend, the results have been nothing less than remarkable and the statistics are there to prove it.

Last year saw the average GS car count per race around eight. That number is now 15.

Only three teams and six drivers visited victory lane last year in GS. So far in 2017, those numbers have risen to six teams and 13 drivers.

In 2016, only three manufacturers fielded cars in the class. That number is now at five manufacturers and with Automatic Racing’s win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago, all five – Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ford, McLaren, and Porsche – have won a GS race in 2017.

“The idea started long before,” said Senior Technical Manager Jeff Mishtawy. “I had come up with a couple ideas and worked with (Senior Series Manager) Jeff Smallwood to look at how we can better align the GS class in the Continental series with global motorsport trends. Where was the Continental series doing well? Where was it weak? What were some of the issues and causes of issues we had?

“After looking at the issues we were having in GS and examining classes that are very similar to that, either just in the U.S. or even North America or globally, the participation in that level of class had gone to almost nothing on home-built race cars.”

As a result, the IMSA Technical Committee began to look at GT4, at the time an emerging global category. IMSA’s Competition and Marketing Departments started conducting feasibility studies based upon what brands would be accepted for competition.

This season being a transitional year, GS cars that had competed in 2016 are grandfathered for one year and will race against GT4 cars, with 2018 being exclusively GT4 specification vehicles.

With Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG announcing their own intentions to homologate a GT4 race car, the 2018 manufacturer count in GS could possibly increase to eight.

“We have several new manufacturers that are launching GT4 cars next year and there seems to be a large amount of interest from outside the current paddock to purchase cars and compete in IMSA,” said Mishtawy. “We certainly expect some teams are going to double in size. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to see yet another large gain at every race between the (three) classes in 2018.”

The FOX Factory 120 will be streamed live on IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app beginning at 1:50 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 6. 

Partners